By Patrick Alcatraz
ARARAT - Because, well, because I am something of a nice guy, some people who meet me often simply have to ask about my religious beliefs. It always comes in this tried-and-true form: "Do you believe in God?" I can be buying someone a cup of coffee, or helping with a term paper, or merely voicing a political opinion, and, yet, there it rears its ugly head, as if religion is any sort of gauge of lifestyle, faith, or civility. It isn't. Religion in the context of our current times is just another fuckin' "divider," the so-called acid test of the New Century. It's no test on me; I rarely get past my initial response: "I don't believe in buildings or images..."
The other day I was telling someone that some of the greatest astronomers have said they have looked far into Outer Space and, Great Scott!, they have seen no sign of Heaven. Nothing. Not a huge, fluffy cloud with a celestial kingdom riding on it, not one angel on the wing, not a sprinkling of moon dust moving between here and there, not even what might be interpreted as a Giant doorknob presumably there to welcome believers from Earth. The Bible, say others, was written by Man, by someone who likely was the Stephen King of his time - a writer with one Hell of a wild imagination, a guy out to scare the Beejeezus out of everyone from here to eternity. Much of what's in the Bible deals with "faith," not fact. Facts and the Bible never meet. Who knows? Maybe Cain and Abel were really another epoch's Everly Brothers. And perhaps Mary Magdalene simply existed as a good-looking chick in a time of female ugliness, hence the immaculate conception.
I don't know. And that's my answer, I just don't know what to say to "believers" who would fall on a sword to prove their loyalty, their faith. When the times have called for prayer, I have prayed. I have prayed for help, only I know my words sailed out into the wind and nowhere else. But that's okay; it did relieve me of something, and maybe that's all religion can ever do - give you the false hope of expectation and of wishing it could all be true.
I understand that time is only something measured here on Earth, that the time of Space laughs at seconds and minutes and hours and days. Space goes forever and it has no time for the 24-hour day. When "believers" tell you that God created Earth in a week, well, that's funny. The only way you'd believe that would be if you agreed that this miserable, flawed planet is the way it is because God didn't take his time. Dammit! Just how close were we to being a perfect world society, free of pain and hunger and bigotry? How close! Goddammit!
I hate it when the Bible cannot answer my questions, yet I do love the crafty romance within the dogma. Of course, I know that much of my life and how I live it comes from learned experience, from seeing and reading and doing. There are, as far as I know, no instructions on how to make love in the Bible. Perhaps there should be...diagrammed at the very least.
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